Making Customized Dashboards

I just got my new Nuvi 3590 and love it, but I miss my old TomTom's status bar with its multitude of info. The Nuvi's "dashboards" have a max of only 4 data fields.

I was able to hack my way into adding two fields to one of the Nuvi's 4-field dashboards, for a total of 6 -- For one of them, I made the "back" button to double as a direction indicator (N, S, E, W, instead of a useless button graphic).

(If anyone wants my hacked dashboard let me know. I would've posted the file here but I can't attach or link to file sharing sites on this forum).

The Nuvi really doesn't make efficient use of that status bar space. There's room for a lot more info, for those of us who like having lots of info there. I can keep hacking dashboards, but it's a slow and painful process.

So, my questions:

Does anyone know of any place to download additional dashboards that already have added data fields? I know it's possible to add them, since I've done it, and I figure I can't possibly be the first one to do that....

Or are there any tools to make customizing the existing dashboards easier? I'm doing it by hacking the code, which is far from intuitive.

Thanks!
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Comments

  • Boyd 1352 Points
    TurboCCC has a tool called GIR_editor that is supposed to be able to edit .dshb files. I have never used it and don't have one of the 2012 nuvi's with dashboards.

    We do not generally discuss hacking Nuvi system files here at GPSReview, so I suspect you will get more help on other sites.
  • philhu 0 Points
    I just got my new Nuvi 3590 and love it, but I miss my old TomTom's status bar with its multitude of info. The Nuvi's "dashboards" have a max of only 4 data fields.

    I was able to hack my way into adding two fields to one of the Nuvi's 4-field dashboards, for a total of 6 -- For one of them, I made the "back" button to double as a direction indicator (N, S, E, W, instead of a useless button graphic).

    (If anyone wants my hacked dashboard let me know. I would've posted the file here but I can't attach or link to file sharing sites on this forum).

    The Nuvi really doesn't make efficient use of that status bar space. There's room for a lot more info, for those of us who like having lots of info there. I can keep hacking dashboards, but it's a slow and painful process.

    So, my questions:

    Does anyone know of any place to download additional dashboards that already have added data fields? I know it's possible to add them, since I've done it, and I figure I can't possibly be the first one to do that....

    Or are there any tools to make customizing the existing dashboards easier? I'm doing it by hacking the code, which is far from intuitive.

    Thanks!
    Can I get a copy of the 6 item dashboard? I tried the editor, but it allows png graphics changes only. I'm trying to modify the dshb file and select more fields

    Thanks!
    Phil
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    As I posted elsewhere, I just got a Nuvi 3550 and dashboard support was the main reason for my choice. However I'm the opposite of you guys, I want a minimalist dashboard with NO data fields and just a Return and Menu button, sort of like my Montana.

    I used TurboCCC's GIR_editor to modify the GarminTiles dashboard, but this technique only allows you to change the images and not the XML code. I played a bit with the XML in a text editor, but any changes made the dashboard unusable (the Nuvi would just show the default dashboard).

    I guess I'll try chopping the .dshb file into separate pieces with a hex editor, changing the XML, then re-combining. As equaczion said above, this is kind of a pain. There has been very little written about making your own dashboards. Some discussion of it on another site (where "no man" should go :twisted: ) but not anything terribly helpful.

    I will update this thread at a future date if I have any luck. Here's my first attempt. :)

    image
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    I figured out what was wrong with my dashboard editing technique. If you edit any XML code in the dashboard file, you must be certain not to change the size of the text portion of the file.

    So, in my case, I wanted to create a minimalist dashboard with no data fields. I simply deleted the field descriptions from the XML code in the Garmin "digi" dashboard. I then padded the text portion of the file with whitespace so that it contained the same number of characters as before. I then saved the .dshb file and used GIR_editor to modify the images.

    This could be a little trickier if you wanted to add code to the file instead of deleting it like I did. I suppose you could delete some of the comments or other parts of the text to keep the size the same.

    It is probably possible to edit the GIR header to change some values and permit a different amount of code as well as changing the size and quantity of images, but that would be complicated.

    I am using Notepad++ to edit the .dshbd files, along with the hex editor plugin (although editing them as a text file also works fine as long as you are careful not to change the size). Also note that there are two "flavors" of dashboard files - large and small. The large ones are used on devices like my 3550 that have 800x480 screens.

    Anyway, this has pointed me in the right direction for hacking existing files and I will continue playing around. Here's my first try at a "minimalist" dashboard with only two buttons in the style of the Montana. :)

    image
  • turtle 31 Points
    Are you just changing the .dshb file or both .dshb and a text file(.glx) to match.
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    edited June 2013
    I'm just editing the .dshb file. Most of the XML is pretty self-explanatory although I've only made some minor tweaks so far. After more trial and error I will probably get more adventurous. :)

    The "digi" dashboard is interesting because it uses a custom truetype font, DigiGarmin.ttf which is found in the Fonts folder inside the .System folder. This should serve as an example of using your own fonts. Color and style are controlled in the dashboard file. But it only appears to be for the data displayed in the fields and not the field titles. Would you need to mess with the .glx files to change the titles?

    I confess I don't really know anything about .glx files, are they related to languages/localization?

    Perhaps the most intruiging thing about the existing dashboard files is what *isn't* there? Are there other commands that can be executed from dashboard buttons (aside from RETURN and MENU?

    Here's a variation of my minimalist dashboard that includes the speed field.

    image
  • philhu 0 Points
    It is too bad that the xx97 units (2013 models) do not use dashboards. Garmin loves to add and 'test' features in production, then remove them, causing every model to not be fully downwards compatible, in style, type and usage, causing alot of user confusion.

    I'll turn the rant lamp off now
  • SergZak 222 Points
    It is too bad that the xx97 units (2013 models) do not use dashboards.
    How about map theme files? I recently got into the theme file modifications and found some settings that increase map readability over the themes that come pre-installed.
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    It is too bad that the xx97 units (2013 models) do not use dashboards.
    I agree, but they have completely redesigned the user interface with those slide out tabs. I think these .dshb files are just about the coolest nuvi interface feature yet. We can finally make the main screen look just how we like, with either lots of data or none at all. Now if we could only do something about that big green bar at the top. ;)

    Themes are also cool, but not new. They have been around for over three years I think, starting with the 1695. Surprises me that people have not done more with them. Sergey, it's great to see somebody finally working along these lines.

    One of my next projects will be to create a "topo" map theme to improve the display of Garmin's own map products and make them more similar to the screenshots I've posted of my own maps.
  • popej 57 Points
    Dashboards have limitations too. They cover only a part of all nuvi controls and probably for this reason there is no layout with all data fields on a side of the screen. Since this was my preferred layout for landscape mode, I'm not a fan of dashboards ;)

    With even more controls and static data fields on new models, probably there was not much possibilities left for user configurable layout.
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Are we not able to put data on the side of the screen? Have you tried? I don't see anything obvious preventing it, unless certain values of x and y in commands like LandscapRect aren't valid. This is something I want to check out myself, unless you can confirm that it isn't possible.

    It would interfere with other features like the screen shortcut buttons I suppose.
  • popej 57 Points
    I haven't tried to create own dashboards but I expect that configurable buttons could interfere, the same for scale, north arrow and message buttons.
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    I have taken minimalism to the extreme here. This would obviously have some issues while navigating, but not while driving around with a non-routable map. In that case the green bar at the top only says "Driving North", "Ready to Navigate" and so forth. So this dashboard devotes every available pixel to the map itself.

    image
    Now if we could only do something about that big green bar at the top. ;)
    image
  • SergZak 222 Points
    I have taken minimalism to the extreme here.
    That "dash" is looking great, Boyd! :D
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Thanks. I am having fun. :D
  • SergZak 222 Points
    It would be nice if a repository (or something similar) could be be set up for sharing modified Dashboard and Theme files. I'd love to check out your work & wouldn't mind sharing mine with others that are interested.
  • turtle 31 Points
    Now if we could only do something about that big green bar at the top. ;)
    image
    Where did you find the big green bar...doesn't seem to be in the dashboard file?
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Haha, there's more than one way to hide a cat! :wink:

    The green bar is still there. I have just covered it up with a dashboard image component. This is not really a practical solution for anything, it was just for fun.

    But I'm sure the green bar is part of a GIR in the firmware. I was able to remove it from my version of Garmin Mobile PC. That program has all its resources in regular files and is therefore easier to hack since no "firmware" is involved.
  • It would be nice if a repository (or something similar) could be be set up for sharing modified Dashboard and Theme files. I'd love to check out your work & wouldn't mind sharing mine with others that are interested.
    Wonderful idea. I second that. I have been messing around with the map themes a bit. I will deposit a couple of my favorites too and some of my personal tricks.
  • turtle 31 Points
    Would like to add my min. dashboard to a repository too.
    Who could set it up?
  • FunkyBoss 0 Points
    I see what you did there Boyd trying to "hide" the top green bar, very clever!

    I have the newer 3597, and while I'm loving it as an upgrade to my old 750, I'd like to see how I can customize it like you are doing with your model. Would these themes let me do that? Basically, I'd like to do something as 'simple' as replacing the current speed I'm driving (useless piece of info to me!) with distance to go or some other bit of useful info.
  • SergZak 222 Points
    I have the newer 3597, and while I'm loving it as an upgrade to my old 750, I'd like to see how I can customize it like you are doing with your model. Would these themes let me do that?
    Map themes are supported on the 3597, however dashboards are NOT.

    Dashboards modify what info is displayed on the map screen such as speed, elevation, etc and how the info is displayed (circular speedometers & dashboard-type elements, etc) and where it's displayed on the screen.

    Map Themes affect how the map itself is displayed (roadway colors, on-ramp/off-ramp colors, land colors, water colors, etc). I have a few map theme comparison screen shots (nuvi 3490) here:
    http://forums.gpsreview.net/discussion/25501/x/p1/#187225

    They both involve direct editing of the map theme (in xml) or dashboard files. I'm familiar with the map theme file structure and have modified quite a few map themes making them much clearer with more contrast which of course make things much more visible.

    Dashboards OTOH are (from what I've heard) trickier to modify.

    From what I know, there are no easy "editors" for either map themes nor dashboard files.
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Sorry FunkyBoss, the 3597 just doesn't support custom dashboards and as Sergey said, that is what you'd need to change the data field layout.

    I think it may be hard to find someone to host dashboard and theme files unfortunately. There are concerns about the amount of time needed to administer such an archive - adding new files, making sure none of them contain malicious code, responding to complaints, etc. My inquiries so far have not yielded anything.

    And the other thing is that Garmin's software license actually forbids what we're doing (you are not allowed to reverse engineer their software). Now I don't think they care if users do this, but posting the files for download might be viewed differently.

    Really, anybody can start their own website for a few bucks a month and put whatever files they like there. There are also free sites where you can share files. So if you feel there's a need, why not give it a try turtle or pillowcase? :)
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Dashboards OTOH are (from what I've heard) trickier to modify..
    True. I would describe theme modification as "editing" but dashboard modification is "hacking". :D
  • philhu 0 Points
    I was going to make a custom dashboard with 2 extra fields in it, instead of the menu (3 lines) and arrow fields, just display more numbers.

    But, never found how to do it

    I played with a 2597 todayh. I do not like it. I think the 2595 is the best and the 2597 is going away from perfection....
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    I'll be doing a dashboard tutorial for gpstracklog with step by step instructions and illustrations. No promise as to how soon it will be available, but it's coming. :)
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Here's a beta version of my 6-field dashboard. However there are some limitations, due to the fact that it had to be built from a stock dashboard.

    The first 3 fields do not function as buttons and you can't change what they're displaying. I had to trade this off for the ability to display and edit the speed limit. But the tutorial will show you how to make your own.

    Also note this dashboard is 800x480 and will only work on the Nuvi 34x0 and 35x0 series (maybe the dezl 760?). The other 2012 nuvi's require a 480x272 dashboard. But again, the principles in the tutorial will help you build your own.

    More to follow. :)

    image
  • SergZak 222 Points
    That's awesome, Boyd!...need a beta tester? 8)
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Thanks! Still putting some finishing touches on it.... :)

    Of course, six fields is kind of silly when you're just driving around. The bottom 3 can be customized but the only options are direction of travel, elevation and time of day, so 2 of the 6 fields will be duplicates.


    image
  • popej 57 Points
    You get more options when there is active route. Connecting to ecoRoute HD adds some options too.
  • EKEagle 16 Points
    That custom dashboard looks great Boyd!
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    You get more options when there is active route.
    Yes, of course. I just wanted to point out that when you aren't in a route then there are only 3 options. Wasn't aware that ecoroute provided more options, that's interesting.

    Glad you like it Eagle, thanks. We will have to see what happens next. I don't think anyone wants to host dashboard files for download, so you may need to learn how to modify them yourself if you want something different....
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    I finally figured out how to use different fonts in the data fields. This layout has more room for the data and also provides 10 more pixels of map in landscape mode and 20 more pixels in portrait. :)

    image
    {...} for this reason there is no layout with all data fields on a side of the screen. Since this was my preferred layout for landscape mode, I'm not a fan of dashboards ;)
    I think I'll try a landscape layout with 4 data fields and the buttons (maybe also speed limit) stacked on the left side of the screen. If needed, I can use an even smaller font. The lane guidance arrows take up 110 pixels in the top left corner but I don't think other items appear on the left screen margin, do they? In portrait mode, I'll put them all at the bottom.
  • How compatible are these dashboards across units?
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    The ones I am making only work on the Nuv 34x0 and 35x0 series. Probably also the dezl 760. This is due to the screen resolution, 800x480. The other dashboard compatible units require a 480x272 version which would need to be completely different. The Nuvi can't automatically scale them, the dashboard has to be created in the correct size.

    https://support.garmin.com/support/searchSupport/case.faces?caseId={58cd6b90-ebbc-11de-ce85-000000000000}

    According to this, the nuvi 2405, 2505, 3400, 3500 series and zumo 350 are the only ones that support dashboards. However I know the dezl 760 also does from looking at the manual.
  • Was wondering about the 2595?
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Please read my post above. :)
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Lots more to do on this, but it works. I am learning a lot through trial and error. :)

    One "interesting" glitch with this layout; in the Nuvi menu where you choose the dashboard, the arrows for switching dashboards don't work if they're covered by a data field! :?

    I haven't played with this yet, but there appears to be a dashboard parameter that controls the vehicle position on the screen. So it should be possible to move the vehicle closer to the bottom of the screen with this layout, thereby showing more of the road ahead.

    image
  • turtle 31 Points
    Lots more to do on this, but it works. I am learning a lot through trial and error. :)

    One "interesting" glitch with this layout; in the Nuvi menu where you choose the dashboard, the arrows for switching dashboards don't work if they're covered by a data field! :?

    I haven't played with this yet, but there appears to be a dashboard parameter that controls the vehicle position on the screen. So it should be possible to move the vehicle closer to the bottom of the screen with this layout, thereby showing more of the road ahead.

    image
    "that controls the vehicle position on the screen" That's what I have been looking for, please let us know how,if you can find out.
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    It is very simple. Here is the line of code from the earlier screenshot I posted.

    <Car Land="154" Port="206" />

    And here is the change I made to move the vehicle closer to the bottom of the screen, as shown below. The value in quotes represents the number of pixels from the BOTTOM of the screen to the center of the vehicle (Land=Landscape, Port=Portrait).

    <Car Land="100" Port="206" />

    But modifying these files is not trivial, and you can make them non-functional if you change the number of bytes in the XML section.

    image
  • SergZak 222 Points
    One "interesting" glitch with this layout
    Cool. I like this layout.
  • turtle 31 Points
    It is very simple. Here is the line of code from the earlier screenshot I posted.

    <Car Land="154" Port="206" />

    And here is the change I made to move the vehicle closer to the bottom of the screen, as shown below. The value in quotes represents the number of pixels from the BOTTOM of the screen to the center of the vehicle (Land=Landscape, Port=Portrait).

    <Car Land="100" Port="206" />

    But modifying these files is not trivial, and you can make them non-functional if you change the number of bytes in the XML section.

    image
    Great, but the menu and back button move down(off screen) also.
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    You are probably doing something wrong. It works as expected on my dashboard. Many things are inter-related in the code, and one change can affect other things. My experience is that when things move around in a way you didn't intend, there is an illegal value present somewhere.

    Sergey: glad you like it. It's not "pretty" yet, but the basic functions are working. :)
  • turtle 31 Points
    Your right... can't be
    <Car Land="90" Port="206" />
    hasn't to be
    <Car Land="090" Port="206" />
    That caused the strange disappearance of back and menu button.
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    I think you might be missing a basic principle here. You cannot change the length of the XML section of the .dshb file. When you changed "154" to "90", you deleted one byte from the code. There are pointers in the binary file header that reference specific bytes in the image section. They will all break if you make any changes.

    So you had a lucky accident in changing "90" to "090" because it keeps the byte count the same. "90" is a perfectly legal value to use, that wasn't what caused the problem. The problem was the "90" is represented by one less byte than "154".

    I suggest that you use a text editor such as Notepad++. I have a scratchpad next to my computer - real pen and paper ;) - EACH TIME I open a dashboard file to edit, I write down the file size BEFORE I make any changes. This is shown at the bottom of the Notepad++ window, such as Length: 72075. Then, before I save a modified file, I either add or delete characters to keep this value the same. The easiest way to do this is create some comment lines as filler, then either add or delete characters from them. For example

    <!-- ****************FILLER*****************-->
    <!-- ****************FILLER*****************-->
    <!-- ****************FILLER*****************-->
    <!-- ****************FILLER*****************-->
  • turtle 31 Points
    Wow...thanks, but I still can't find the text I want to change (time and speed)
    in the .dshb file. I want to remove them. Have to change Language file(.glx) and then change default to that language to get it to happen.
    Every time I use the GIR_Editor for extracting symbols , it changes the files size. I'm using notebook++ for the text.
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    GIR_editor adjusts the dashboard file header as needed for any new images. You must not change the dimensions of the original images though. But this is why I said EACH TIME you need to check the file length before changing any XML code. If you changed any images in GIR_editor, the file length will be different.

    You can eliminate the title from any field by removing the <TitleDisplay> tag. The easiest way to change the title would probably be to do this, then include the title as a bitmapped image in one of the files and adjust its position to line up with the data you are displaying. This won't work if you allow the user to customize the fields though.

    Really, I don't care what the titles say myself so this isn't an issue for me. :wink:
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    So it should be possible to move the vehicle closer to the bottom of the screen with this layout, thereby showing more of the road ahead.
    I couldn't quite figure out what was happening until I compared the two screenshots above. Here's a mirror image of the new one next to the old one. It doesn't actually show "more of the road ahead". Instead, it shows the same distance ahead but zooms the image larger. Note that both screenshots show the map scale as 500 feet, but clearly the one on the right is zoomed in farther. :)

    Now note that a route is active, and the Nuvi wants to show the distance to the turn on the screen. Maybe this behaves differently depending on where the next turn is and whether you are navigating a route?

    image
  • Boyd 1352 Points
    Landscape view is almost done. I gave the fields a Garmin Green Gradient. :) Putting the fields on the left obscures some of the split screen map, but not too bad....

    image
  • SergZak 222 Points
    It seems Garmin has gotten their butt kicked on the displayed info/quality of their supplied/default dashboards by ordinary users. Probably not enough demand for them...if they would've come up with something like this, maybe dashboards would've been more popular. I've never seen any new/updated dashboards since the ones that were released on units. This applies to map themes as well. Some of the supplied themes are there on the units in name only...if you look at the actual map theme file contents, you'll see that some are basically blank (I believe there are ~3 or so of these), using the default Garmin colors. Good job, Boyd.
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